Signs of the Times

Pope John Paul II Names 37 Cardinals

Pope John Paul II announced on Jan. 21 the appointment of 37 new cardinals, 33 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in the next conclave. This brings the number of cardinal electors to 128, the highest number in history, shattering the ceiling of 120 set by Paul VI in 1973. Three years ago, at the last consistory, the pope also broke the ceiling with two extra cardinals.

The pope did not explain the discrepancy between the ceiling of 120 voting cardinals in a conclave—which he confirmed in his own document on conclave rules in 1996—and the fact that the new appointments will clearly leave more than that. And unlike his previous rule-breaking in 1988 and 1998, which burst the 120 ceiling for only a few weeks or months, this consistory could mean an expanded pool of electors until May 2002, when the eighth-oldest turns 80.


Three new cardinals are from the United States: Archbishop Edward Egan of New York, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., and Avery Dulles, S.J., professor of theology at Fordham University (for more on Father Dulles see “Of Many Things,” page 2). The new appointments bring to 13 the number of U.S. cardinals, two of whom are over 80 and ineligible to vote: Father Dulles and Cardinal James Hickey, retired archbishop of Washington. With 11 electors, the Americans are the second largest national bloc after the Italians, who have 24 electors.

The pope also named three other 80-year-old cardinals: a German monsignor-theologian, Leo Scheffczyk; Jean Honoré, retired archbishop of Tours, France; and Stéphanos II Ghattas, Coptic patriarch in Egypt.

Two of the new cardinals were clearly chosen with future positions in mind:

• Cardinal-designate Walter Kasper, 67, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who is widely expected to head the council after the retirement of Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy, now 76.

• Cardinal-designate Crescenzio Sepe, secretary-general of the now-dissolved Committee for the Great Jubilee, 57, who is said to be in line for an important Vatican post.

The pope said many others might have merited the appointment and that he hoped he could name them in the future—an oblique response to those who have suggested that, having set a full roster for a potential conclave, the 80-year-old pontiff might choose to retire.

The consistory at which these men will be made cardinals will be held on Feb. 21, when John Paul will give the zucchetto (a red skullcap) and the biretta to the new cardinals. He will give them their cardinalatial rings at a Mass on the following day. They do not officially become cardinals until the consistory. If they or the pope dies before the consistory, they do not become cardinals.

John Paul has appointed 154 of the 178 living cardinals. He has appointed all but 10 of the 128 under 80 who have the right to vote in a conclave. With the new appointments, the average age of the cardinals-elector is 71.5 years.

The new appointments significantly increased the representation of Vatican officials in the College of Cardinals. In 1998, after the last consistory, the Vatican cardinals made up only 27 percent of the electors, the same percentage as under Paul VI. Now they comprise 32 percent of the cardinals who will elect the next pope. Of the 16 cardinals who will turn 80 over the next two years, 11 are from the Curia. So the Vatican’s numerical influence in a potential conclave is at a high point, but it will steadily decline.

The geographical distribution of the cardinals did not change radically as a result of these latest appointments. Western Europe was the biggest gainer, going from 36 percent of the electors in 1998 to 38 percent today. Latin America also gained a percentage point, going from 19 percent to 20 percent. On the other hand, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia each lost 1 percent of the vote. The third world now has about 41 percent of the electors, compared to Europe’s 47 percent.

But the latest batch of cardinal nominees is important whether or not a conclave is held anytime soon. Pope John Paul has increased the cardinals’ voice in church governance and tends to rely on them individually as the most trusted advisors on regional and universal issues. Cardinals from around the world are, more and more, frequent visitors at the Vatican, where they help manage the business of Vatican congregations and other agencies, take a leading role in synods and, when necessary, meet with the pope in private audience.

Here is the list of the 37 cardinals-designate, in the order in which they were announced by Pope John Paul II on Jan. 21:

•Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. On Jan. 30, the Italian will turn 67.

• Francois X. Nguyen Van Thuan, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The Vietnamese is 72 and once spent 13 years in communist prisons in his native country.

• Agostino Cacciavillan, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See and formerly nuncio to the United States. Italian, he is 74.

• Sergio Sebastiani, president of Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See. The Italian prelate is 69.

• Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of Congregation for Catholic Education. The Polish prelate is 61.

• José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes. The 69-year-old is a native of Portugal.

• Crescenzio Sepe, secretary-general of the now-dissolved Committee for the Great Jubilee. The 57-year-old Italian is expected to be appointed soon to another post.

• Jorge Mejía, head of the Vatican Library and the Vatican Archives. A native of Argentina, he turned 78 on Jan. 31.

• Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Congregation For Eastern Churches. The 70-year-old is the former Syrian Catholic patriarch.

• Mario Pompedda, head of the Apostolic Signature. The Italian is 71.

• Walter Kasper, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The 67-year-old German is widely expected to head the Christian unity council after the retirement of Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy, 76.

• Antonio José González Zumárraga of Quito, Ecuador, 75.

• Ivan Dias of Mumbai, India, 64.

• Geraldo Majella Agnelo of São Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, 67.

• Pedro Rubiano Sáenz of Bogota, Colombia, 68.

• Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, 70.

• Desmond Connell of Dublin, Ireland, 74.

• Audrys Backis of Vilnius, Lithuania, will turn 64 on Feb. 1.

• Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa of Santiago, Chile, 67.

• Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 58.

• Bernard Agré of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 74.

• Louis-Marie Billé of Lyons, France, will be 63 on Feb. 18.

• Ignacio Antonio Velasco García, S.D.B., of Caracas, Venezuela, 72.

• Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Lima, Peru, 57.

• Francisco Alvarez Martínez of Toledo, Spain, 75.

• Claudio Hummes, O.F.M., of Sao Paolo, Brazil, 66.

• Varkey Vithayathil, C.SS.R., of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India, 73.

• Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., of Buenos Aires, Argentina, 64.

• José da Cruz Policarpo of Lisbon, Portugal, will be 65 on Feb. 26.

• Severino Poletto of Turin, Italy, 67.

• Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster, England, 68.

• Edward M. Egan of New York, 68.

• Stéphanos II Ghattas, C.M., Coptic patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, 80.

• Jean Honoré, retired archbishop of Tours, France, 80.

• Roberto Tucci, S.J., an Italian who turns 80 on April 19, a director of Vatican Radio and longtime planner of papal trips.

• Leo Scheffczyk, 80, a German monsignor and theologian who has advised the Vatican on family issues.

• Avery Dulles, S.J., U.S. theologian and ecumenist, 82.

March for Life Gives Resounding Cheers to New Administration

Optimism ran high at the kickoff rally for the annual March for Life Jan. 22, where dozens of speakers praised the two-day-old Bush administration and spoke of upcoming changes to abortion policy. And toward the end of the two-hour rally held this year on the mud-covered grounds of the Washington Monument, participants cheered an announcement from the White House saying the Bush administration planned to reinstate the Mexico City policy, which had denied U.S. foreign aid to programs overseas that promote abortion. President Clinton had reversed the policy in 1993 two days after he became president.

During his homily at a vigil Mass on Jan. 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception prior to the Jan. 22 March for Life, Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore decried a “litmus test” to which government appointees are being subjected. “It is arrogant and unacceptable to make unswerving allegiance to Roe v. Wade a litmus test for high public office in the United States,” Cardinal Keeler said.

Philippine Bishop Details Concerns to New President

As a second people’s uprising propelled another woman to the presidency in the Philippines, the head of the bishops’ conference detailed the church’s longstanding social concerns. In a statement shortly after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took the oath of office on Jan. 20, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato said he hoped the new president would focus the nation’s healing process on “the wider divisions of society, between Muslims, Christians and lumads [indigenous peoples], and the rich and poor.” The archbishop, president of the bishops’ conference, implored Arroyo to veer away from the “political culture of patronage and personalities,” UCA News reported.

Vatican Says Trip to Ukraine Is On, Despite Orthodox Request

Despite a request from Ukraine’s largest Orthodox Church that Pope John Paul II delay his trip to Ukraine, the Vatican said the trip is on and the pope hopes it will contribute to improving Catholic-Orthodox relations. The Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchy in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church also said that if the pope meets with other Orthodox communities in Ukraine—communities they consider to be in schism—it could mark the end of Catholic-Orthodox relations. On Jan. 22 the Russian Orthodox Church released a letter from Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, Ukraine, to Pope John Paul II, asking that the June visit be postponed. Metropolitan Vladimir leads the Ukrainian Orthodox community that is in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate.

Meanwhile Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox leaders from Slovakia signed an agreement to end a decades-long property dispute between their churches. A spokesman said the accord could offer a model for neighboring countries, but cautioned that government cooperation was needed in solving legal and financial issues.

Israeli Soldiers Fire at Bishop’s Car at Checkpoint

Israeli soldiers fired at a bishop’s car with a Vatican flag as it tried to pass through a border checkpoint. Auxiliary Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo of Jerusalem, his secretary, Father Elie Kurzum, and Father Elias Odeh, parish priest of the Israeli Arab village of Shefa Amer, were driving to the West Bank village of Zababdeh to visit a sick priest when the shooting occurred. No one was injured in the incident, which occurred on Jan. 9. Father Odeh and the nun carry American citizenship.

Bishop Marcuzzo said he was grateful for the official apology presented to him on Jan. 10 by Yossi Beilin, the Israeli justice and religion minister, and Matan Vilnai, the science, culture and sport minister, on behalf of the government. “They showed good understanding and good will to our requests. We are waiting for the practical application of their declarations,” Bishop Marcuzzo said in the letter.

Taliban Regime Says Converts to Christianity Face Death

The supreme leader of the Taliban regime, which rules most of Afghanistan, has decreed that any Muslim found guilty of embracing Christianity will face death. Ummat daily in Karachi reported on Jan. 9 that in decrees broadcast over Afghanistan’s Radio Shariat, Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid made conversion to Christianity or distribution of literature promoting Christianity or Judaism by a Muslim a capital offense. UCA News reported that Ummat said decrees issued by the Islamic leader have the force of law in Taliban-ruled territory. It said that the supreme Taliban leader also made distribution of literature against Islam punishable by five years in prison.

Pope Calls for Ecological Conversion to Help Environment

The world’s people need to undergo an “ecological conversion” to protect the environment and make the earth a place where all life is valued and can grow in harmony, Pope John Paul II said on Jan. 17 during his weekly general audience. The domination human beings were given over creation is not one of exploitation, but of service and ministry aimed at “continuing the work of the Creator, a work of life and of peace,” the pope said. “Unfortunately, if one casts a gaze over the regions of our planet, one notices immediately that humanity has not fulfilled the divine expectation,” he said.

“Especially in our times, man has devastated without hesitation plains and wooded valleys, polluted the waters, deformed the earth’s habitats, made the air unbreathable, disturbed the hydro-geological and atmospheric systems [and] turned green spaces into deserts,” he said. “One must, therefore, promote and support the ecological conversion which in the last few decades has made humanity more sensitive to the catastrophes we are moving toward,” Pope John Paul said.

Two days later, the Vatican newspaper said mad cow disease was caused by human actions contrary to nature and an economy that places profits before people. An editorial in the Jan. 19 edition of L’Osservatore Romano blamed the disease on the “violence perpetrated for decades against nature to the point of provoking its rebellion” and on an understanding of the economy focused only on earnings instead of on earnings gained by producing quality food.

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